One of the great things about doing something like a long distance hike is the in-your-face realization of how much stuff we have in our day to day lives that we take for granted, and how little we actually need to be satisfied. While I was walking, I sometimes made lists about all the things that I didn’t have but that I didn’t really notice I had in my other life, in the city.
I came to the conclusion that it is really good for humans to spend some time experiencing deprivation of some sort, partly to appreciate the abundance of things we have here in the western world, but also just to remind ourselves that we’re actually quite tough and can get on quite well with much less than we’re used to. You can do hard things.
Spend a week without taking a shower, to appreciate hot running water.
Spend a week walking every. single. place. you go, to appreciate cars and bikes and public transport.
Spend a week carrying all the clothes you wear, to appreciate cupboards and draws and houses to store things in.
Spend a week drying yourself with a scrap of thin cotton the size of three hankies, to appreciate having a towel.
Spend a week carrying an extra 12kg around, to appreciate walking carrying just a phone and keys.
Spend a week with not-quite-enough blankets on to appreciate being warm at night.
Spend a week not talking to anyone during the day so you can appreciate company.
Spend a week without sitting on the couch so you can appreciate the ease and comfort of a soft place to sit.
Spend a week eating only dehydrated food to appreciate fresh fruit and veg and meat.
Spend a week sleeping on the floor to appreciate a mattress.
Spend a week sleeping inside a sleeping bag to appreciate being able to stretch out while you sleep.
Spend a week with doors and windows open constantly to appreciate being in a wind-free house.
Spend a week without coffee to appreciate your daily brew.
My challenge to you is to spend some time without at least one of the things on the list (it doesn’t have to be a whole week). It’s unlikely to be particularly pleasant. It is likely to be uncomfortable. But you know what? You can do it. And you might find it’s empowering to discover that you can actually survive without some things you’re used to. Plus, you get the bonus of getting to really appreciate whatever it is you go without when you get back to it, instead of just taking it for granted.